John J. Pershing to Newton D. Baker


John J. Pershing to Newton D. Baker


Pershing, John J. (John Joseph), 1860-1948




1918 July 9


General Pershing reports on the strength of the allies.


Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Papers


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


World War, 1914-1918--Statistics


Danna Faulds




Document scan was taken from Library of Congress microfilm reel of the Wilson Papers. WWPL volunteers transcribed the text.


Received at the War Department
Washington, D. C. July 9, 1918.
5:15 A.M.
From H.A.R.F.
To The Adjutant-General, Washington.
Number 1426 July 8th. Confidential.

For the Chief of Staff and Sec’t of War.
The following figures, not regarded as either complete or entirely accurate, but based on the best available information, express the man power situation of Great Britain, France and Germany.

Great Britain: Combatant strength in France, about July 1st, 1918, 58 complete divisions, 1 million 44 thousand. Supposed “home army” of which 80,000 are probably in Ireland and the remainder in use as line of communication troops, etc., in England-336 thousand. Line of communication troops, etc., in France-536,000, Expectation from the man power bill, which was originally 500,000, now taken to be only 50,000 miners and 30,000 farmers, 80,000. Remainder supposedly in depots after the deduction of all replacements known to have been made to July 1, 1918, -484,000. Wounded estimated as returnable to firing line in 1918-113,000. Total resources for 1918 (total of above figures)-2,593,000. Of this total, 872,000 are thought not available for combat leaving 1,721,000 available for combat and for replacement on the western front. There are also 3 British divisions in Italy, 3 in Macedonia, 2 in Palestine, one in Mesopotamia and one in Egypt. Ten of the divisions now in France are from the dominions of Great Britain.

France: Combat strength in France, July 1, 1918, 101 divisions- 1,283,000. Add three cavalry divisions-50,000. Total combatant strength-1,533,000. Class of 1919, not available until September 1, 1918-200,000. Remainder supposedly in depots after deducting all replacements known to have been made-366,000. Line of communication troops, etc.,-381,000. Wounded returnable to firing line-50,000. Total resources for 1918 (total of the above figures)-2 million 330 thousand. Of this total, 391,000 are thought not available for combat, leaving 1,949,000 available for combat and for replacement on the western front. The above figures do not take into account 2 French divisions serving in Italy and two Italian divisions serving with the French in France.

Germany: The following is taken from a French confidential, official statement and purports to show the status of the German forces on July 1, 1918: Combatant strength, French front-3,557,000. Line of communication troops, French front-400,000. Combatant strength, exterior front - 608,000. Line of communication troops, exterior front-320,000. In depots-340,000. Zone of the interior-620,000. Men in civil service-150,000. Men temporarily exempted-500,000. Wounded under treatment-509,000. Germans abroad-200,000. Unfit at enlistment-2,230,000. German losses in battle during May are placed at 240,000: other additional Wastage during May amounts to 182 thousand. This loss of 182,000 is stated to be composed of 80,000 losses other than in battle; 2,000 reconstitution of units from Russia; and 100,000 return of class of 1899 to civil life.

Resume of this information shows: Combatant strength on French front: Great Britain 1,044,000: France 1,533,000, Italy 14,000; total 2,402,000. Germany 3,557,000. Additional prospective reenforcements that will form on the French front in 1918: Great Britain 677,000; France 616,000; total 1,293,000: Germany 340,000.

Referring to additional prospective reenforcements in the last paragraph, the British claimed that in precluding 130,000 replacements for June they have raked up everything available and will not be able to cover any more losses until October. The French claimed on June 18th that the units at the front were short 80,000 men and that they had only 60,000 men in depots with which to replace. Further that there are no more available replacements until the class of 1919, 200,000 men, become ready for service on September 1st. Our figures, however, show that the British should have a residue of 484,000 in depots and the French a similar residue of 366,000. These facts appear in the data given in the preceding paragraph and are deduced from a statement made to the Versailles Council about February 1st, 1918. Neither the British nor the French, so far as is know [sic], have made use of this surplus man power, apparently available for combatant service.

The figures and statements given in the preceding paragraphs of this cable must be considered as extremely confidential and under no circumstances should they be published. The main reason for this is that there is going on between French and British Governments at present an acrimonious dispute as to whether Great Britain in [sic] throwing her full weight against the Germans in France. The French claim to believe that the British are holding an organized force of about a million men, nearly all fit for service in France, in England and Ireland as a home army.


Copy for Chief of Staff.

Original Format



Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871-1937




Pershing, John J. (John Joseph), 1860-1948, “John J. Pershing to Newton D. Baker,” 1918 July 9, WWP25071, World War I Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.